"Strong headwinds" among factors blamed for Gran Fondo food shortage
RBC Gran Fondo organizers say high winds, delivery issues, and trouble recruiting volunteers led to the food and water shortage during this year’s 122-kilometre cycling race.
More than 6,000 riders pedalled from Vancouver to Whistler on September 10, but many of them encountered empty food and water stations along the way.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon after intense criticism from participants, race organizers said strong headwinds throughout the day created “greater calorie demands than usual.”
Delayed deliveries and fewer volunteers than were needed also led to problems at hydration stations.
“In addition, we experienced late food supply challenges, placing a burden on remaining stocks. Alongside, issues with volunteer recruitment for a record number of cyclists led to water distribution delays on a hot day.”
— RBC GranFondo (@rbcgranfondo) September 12, 2022
Many cyclists took to social media to complain, questioning how race organizers could let athletes go without food or water during the gruelling race.
“It was tough,” one racer told Daily Hive, after snapping a photo of the green banana he received at the Alice Lake refuelling station.
“Hot day and a lot of climbing without sufficient hydration and nutrients. I ended up finishing but definitely cramped up near the end.”
“Never seen anything like it,” cyclist Dave Thompson tweeted. “If you’d told me I needed to bring my own food, I would have. It became a safety issue.”
Race organizers initially said food stations were “partially exhausted” in a tweet Sunday, but some participants criticized them for failing to address the issue — or admit the stations had completely run out.
On Monday afternoon, the Gran Fondo released an even more apologetic statement.
“We are now aware of the issues, and take full responsibility; full stop, this can’t happen again,” race organizers said.
“We apologize, and will learn from these lessons and work to improve our contingency planning, supplier relationships and recruitment so that we can continue to bring you this award-winning event at the world-class level you expect.”